Dreams and fear

About twice a week, I dream that my husband falls out of love with me. It’s subtle. I feel him getting distant, and I start asking questions, and – just when I think I’m going a little crazy – he comes out with it: he hasn’t loved me for a long time. He wants a divorce.

Sad and empty, I start planning to go back to Australia. I’m calm, but internally devastated at the thought of existing on this planet without him, without waking up next to him, without his specific physical and emotional form present in my daily life. I’m unable to figure out what went wrong, or how he could change his feelings about me so fast. 

It’s the same every time.

I know. It’s stupid. 

I read somewhere that dreaming about things like this is a good thing. It’s my brain trying to make what we have more realistic, because what we have is so beautiful it’s almost unreal. 

A few weeks ago, the dream changed:

We were both diagnosed with the same terrible form of cancer and offered the same two choices:

  1. Suffer through treatment that would extend our lives for years, but would make those years physically painful, expensive, traumatic, and ugly. 
  2. Take a medication that would mask every single symptom of the cancer until the moment we died, which would happen in almost exactly a month.

We both chose the latter. 

The vivid part of the dream took place in a park, maybe a couple of weeks later. It was fall, and the huge trees around us were dropping big, beautiful red and orange leaves everywhere. Branches dangled around us, rustling gently. Sunlight pierced the foliage, hitting me in the eyes. It was a freezing cold, sunny, clear day, with perfect blue skies.

My favorite weather in the world. 

I was giddy. My nose was cold. We were surrounded by our best friends. I was running, pushing hanging branches aside like curtains, alternately laughing out loud and crying with delight. 

But every time I saw him trip over, or stumble, or look out of breath, the world went dark for a moment and I panicked. Maybe this was it. Maybe this was his time. I spent the first part of the dream watching him, afraid. Maybe this wasn’t the best idea. Should we have taken the first option and given ourselves more time together? Why do our lives have to end this soon?

But then, out of nowhere, a palpable relief swept over me and I thought: We are the lucky ones. 

In this world, this dream, we got to live and die together. Even the best love stories end in tragedy; one has to die before the other, leaving the other to learn to live out the rest of their lives without the presence they love so much. But for us? That difference was only a matter of days, and I had a feeling we’d go at the same time. 

That’s what made us the lucky ones. We had no fear of living without the other person, because we knew we’d never have to. 

I called him over and told him to run through the leaves with me. 

He did. We held hands. I cried. I laughed. We kissed. It was the most beautiful thing I’ve experienced in a long time. I was wide-eyed at the beauty of the world, acutely aware of time passing, each moment sparkling and cracking with clarity. I held his face in my hands and disappeared into his eyes. I was ready to die with him. 

I truly believed that after this new dream, I’d stop having the ones where I find out we’re breaking up – but just a few days ago, another one hit me. This one felt so real that I spent a good ten minutes reorienting myself after I woke up and saw him next to me, still there, still eager to love me, upset at my unconscious for making me afraid of something that he says will never happen.

I realize:

Even with emotionally scary dreams and unknown futures, we’re still the lucky ones. To be this deeply in love is a gift that many people might never be given, and here we are, still offering that gift to each other every single day.